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stunning castle built over river

Overview

An awe-inspiring journey

The mist-covered landscapes and historic sites of Dordogne and the Loire Valley are largely undisturbed, and the quiet and stillness that envelop them make the region a wonderful escape from the incessant bustle of our modern world. In these charmed corners of the French countryside, artisans still employ techniques from the Middle Ages, wines are produced on 200-year-old estates, and religious pilgrims still arrive at ancient Romanesque abbeys and churches to reconfirm their faith.

Enhanced by lectures from Stanford professor Carolyn Lougee, this Gallic getaway offers tastings of wine from some of France’s most famous wine regions, day trips to delightful medieval villages and visits to world-famous châteaux with fascinating tales to tell.

Dates

September 29–October 9, 2022

Duration

11 days

Price

From $10,795 per person

Trip size

26 participants

Minimum age

18 years

Faculty leader

A different kind of classroom

With renowned Stanford faculty and scholars leading the way, every Travel/Study trip is a one-of-a-kind educational experience.

Carolyn Lougee

History

Carolyn Lougee has taught European history at Stanford University since 1973. She particularly enjoys sharing with travelers her love of, and expertise in early modern France.

Itinerary

Journey through Bordeaux and the Loire and Dordogne Valleys

Begin in the Loire Valley with visits to famous châteaux including Chenonceau and Chambord, then travel to Bordeaux to sample Premier cru wines. End in the Dordogne Valley exploring prehistoric life and art.

  • Paris, France / Loire Valley

    Arrive in Paris and travel by TGV (high-speed train) to St-Pierre-des-Corps. Check in to our boutique hotel, a charming, family-owned château located at the heart of a tranquil, wooded park near the Loire Valley’s most celebrated sights. Gather this evening for a welcome reception and dinner.

    Accommodations:

    Domaine de la Tortinière

    Included meal: Dinner
  • Loire Valley

    Visit the 16th-century Château de Chenonceau, romantically perched atop an arched bridge that spans the Cher river and boasting an impressive collection of Old Master paintings as well as stunning formal gardens, including a two-acre flower cutting garden. After a special guided tour inside, cruise the Cher aboard a privately chartered traditional boat, experiencing the best views of the château’s arched colonnade. Continue this afternoon to nearby Amboise for a visit to the Château du Clos Lucé, the home where Leonardo da Vinci spent the last three years of his life and now a museum with a recently restored recreation of the artist’s workshops and models of his engineering creations. Conclude the day with a private toast at the former royal palace Château Royal d’Amboise, the grand 15th-century residence of King Charles VIII.

    Accommodations:

    Domaine de la Tortinière

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Loire Valley

    Enjoy a full day to explore the castle, grounds and forests of Château de Chambord, transformed in the 16th century by King François I from a simple hunting lodge to the largest of the Loire châteaux. Highlights include the double-spiral central staircase, as well as several rooms that have recently been painstakingly restored to recreate the atmosphere at the time of the king’s reign. Learn about how the enormous surrounding forest (fabled royal hunting grounds during the Renaissance) is managed in the 21st century.

    Accommodations:

    Domaine de la Tortinière

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Loire Valley

    This morning is at leisure for independent explorations or to relax and enjoy the surroundings of our château hotel. An early-morning hot air balloon ride over the Loire countryside is available at additional cost. This afternoon learn about the recent restoration work done by local craftsmen at the elegant early-Renaissance Château d'Azay-le-Rideau, furnished with rare original tapestries and antiques that survived the French Revolution and strategically positioned on an island in the Indre river, its fairy-tale silhouette reflected in the still waters below. Continue to the small, privately owned Château de Gizeux for dinner hosted by the family who continue to make it their home and who work to preserve its historic treasures, including rare 17th-century Italian murals that locals successfully hid during the Revolution.

    Accommodations:

    Domaine de la Tortinière

    Included meals: Breakfast and dinner
  • Loire Valley / Bordeaux

    Bid farewell to the Loire Valley this morning and travel by TGV to Bordeaux. Upon arrival explore the historic center on a guided walking tour, followed by lunch at a local restaurant. Check in to our small, elegant, centrally located hotel, housed in a former 18th-century mansion, and enjoy some time at leisure this afternoon. Later gather for a private hands-on cooking class and enjoy the results for dinner.

    Accommodations:

    Le Boutique Hotel

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Bordeaux / Patiras Island

    Discover Patiras Island on a “slow travel” day off the beaten track. Located in the Gironde estuary and accessible only by boat, the island is home to vineyards that were rare survivors of the phylloxera epidemic that killed most of Europe’s wine grapes. A landmark lighthouse built in 1810 guided sailors for over 170 years and now offers a panorama of the estuary and its surrounding Médoc Grands Crus Classés castles and Vauban fortresses, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Returning to Bordeaux enjoy a Grand Cru wine tasting at a vineyard that puts sustainability and the environment at the heart of its daily operations. The evening is at leisure to try one of Bordeaux’s excellent restaurants on our own.

    Accommodations:

    Le Boutique Hotel

    Included meals: Breakfast and lunch
  • Bordeaux / Sarlat-la-Canéda

    Drive into the countryside today, passing through lovely villages and picturesque farmland en route to the Dordogne Valley. Stop at Château de Tiregand, a private château near Bergerac, to meet the owner, who shares an ancestor with Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, author of The Little Prince. Continue to Sarlat-la-Canéda (commonly referred to as Sarlat), located in the heart of the Dordogne and one of the most representative medieval towns of 14th-century France. Check in to our centrally located hotel in the late afternoon. Explore the medieval center on a guided walk this evening, with dinner at a local restaurant.

    Accommodations:

    Plaza Madeleine Hotel & Spa

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Dordogne Valley

    In nearby Les Eyzies-de-Tayac, “the prehistory capital of the world,” explore the National Museum of Prehistory on an expert-guided tour. The museum is built into the face of a cliff, much like the caves of the Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon people who inhabited this region millennia ago, and features artifacts from the surrounding prehistoric sites as well as excellent interpretive displays about early hominids. After lunch venture deep inside the prehistoric cave of Rouffignac, known as “the cave of a hundred mammoths,” traveling aboard an electric train for over a mile within the enormous cave to see its artistic engravings and black contour drawings—representations of some 224 animals, primarily mammoths, as well as four human figures. Conclude the day with an expert-guided tour of Lascaux IV, a new, state-of-the-art museum that features a meticulous reconstruction of almost the entire original Lascaux cave (which has been closed to tourists since 1963), as well as film, 3D images, special sound-and-light effects and more to very effectively shed light on the contexts of the art.

    Accommodations:

    Plaza Madeleine Hotel & Spa

    Included meals: Breakfast and lunch
  • Dordogne Valley

    Gather this morning for a special guest lecture by Sandrine Géraud, who specializes in the preservation of the Lascaux caves and is one of the rare people to enter the original caves every week for the last 20 years. Most recently she served as a crucial link between the painters and sculptors of Lascaux IV, working to ensure the precise work on the engravings and paintings. Then enjoy a private insider’s experience of prehistoric life at Castel Merle, with interactive demonstrations of flint knapping (shaping flints into tools), spear throwing and fire making, as well as a “prehistoric lunch,” all arranged and accompanied by local experts. Return to Les Eyzies for a guided visit inside Font-de-Gaume, one of the last great original polychrome-painted caves still open to the public (on a very restricted basis) after the closure of Lascaux and Altamira. The cave features more than 200 painted and engraved representations of bison, horses, mammoths and reindeer, as well as a woolly rhinoceros and a wolf, most dating back some 14,000 years (some may be even older). Its most famous images are a leaping horse and a scene in which a male reindeer licks the forehead of a female.

    Accommodations:

    Plaza Madeleine Hotel & Spa

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Sarlat / Saint-Émilion / Bordeaux

    Enjoy the morning to explore Sarlat’s Saturday market, one of the most authentic outdoor markets in the region. After an early lunch return by motor coach to Bordeaux, stopping en route for a guided walk in the medieval village of Saint-Émilion, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its quality wine production. Our tour includes a visit inside the partly subterranean Monolithic Church, carved out of a rocky hillside in the 12th century. Celebrate a memorable journey with a private farewell dinner at a château vineyard near Bordeaux this evening.

    Accommodations:

    Plaza Madeleine Hotel & Spa

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Bordeaux / Home

    After breakfast transfer to the Bordeaux airport for flights home.

    Included meal: Breakfast

Trip details

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aerial view over castle and city buildings

Pricing

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The price of your trip covers a comprehensive educational program in addition to meals, accommodations, tours and excursions. Continue reading for a full list of what’s included.

symmetrical view of castle with little reflection on river

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